Inside The Bills

Dobler’s uniform secrets

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2011 – 11:15 am

As you saw in our Uniform Extremes piece on the home page of today, former Bills guard Conrad Dobler did just about anything to gain an edge. Coming here for the last two years of his career he knew his body was starting to wear down, which only prompted him to ramp up his efforts to gain an edge.

Dobler had all kinds of different methods for discouraging the opposition as told by Bills equipment manager Dave Hojnowski, who had a couple of encounters with him.

“When we first got him he came to me and said, ‘I’ve got some shin guards that I need you to keep an eye on in the laundry,’” said Bills equipment manager Dave Hojnowski. “So he brings me the shin guards to show me so I know these are his and they were like two nylon sleeves and there was a pocket where there were two metal rods, metal steel rods that he put in those shin guards.

“He would leg whip guys with these steel rods in his shin guards. You couldn’t really tell (they were there) because they were under his game socks. So if you were playing against Conrad Dobler you’d better be prepared to get leg whipped, tackled, bitten, whatever it took.”

Dobler also resorted to sense of smell when it came to offending the opposition.

“Back then some guys used that DMSO that would make your breath smell like garlic,” said Hojnowski. “He used literally everything at his disposal to try to get ready for games.”

Hojnowski is referring to dimethyl sulfoxide, which players rubbed on their skin as a topical analgesic at the time, especially those with chronic pain like Dobler. The side effect of DMSO was even though you rubbed it on your skin your breath would smell like garlic. Dobler, however, saw that as an advantage breathing in close proximity to the defensive linemen he faced in games. If his breath was offensive, all the better.

With Dobler’s knees sustaining significant damage over the previous eight seasons with St. Louis and New Orleans it would take most of Sunday morning for him to prepare his body to play and then most of the week after to recover and be ready to strap it up the following week.

“He would show up before a game at 7:30 or 8 in the morning and that would begin his preparation for the game,” Hojnowski recalls. “He’d get one hand taped and wait a while and get the other hand taped. In between he’d be using everything possible to get his legs and his knees ready to play. It always smelled like a Ben-Gay factory around him. That and I remember him hopping off the table for every game day for the game no problem and at the end of the game he could barely walk because his legs were so sore and his knees were so bad. It was amazing to see that.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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